Trouble At The Little Village School


I was browsing through the book section of Amazon and I stumbled across The Little Village School by Gervase Phinn. Like so often is the case, it was the cover that caught my eye and from the description it sounded like something I would enjoy.  But what really sealed the deal for me was several of the reviewers were comparing it to Miss Read’s books.  I knew I had to give it a try!  And I am certainly glad I did… I loved it and couldn’t wait to read the next book in the series, Trouble at the Little Village School:

“Elisabeth Devine certainly rocked the boat when she arrived in Barton-in-the-Dale to take over as head teacher of the little primary school. Now it’s a new term, and after winning over the wary locals, she can finally settle in to her role. Or so she thinks . . .
For the school is hit by a brand-new bombshell: it’s to be merged with its arch rival, and Elisabeth has to fight for the headship with Urebank’s ruthless and calculating headmaster. She has her work cut out for her.
But add in some gossip and a helping of scandal, not to mention various newcomers bringing good things and bad to Barton, and that’s not the only trouble that’s brewing in the village.”

I enjoyed this one every bit as much as the first and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

Trouble at the Little Village School by Gervase Phinn
Published by Hodder (2013)



The Fairacre Festival


We had quite the stormy start to the weekend and the wind howling outside provided the perfect backdrop to Miss Read’s The Fairacre Festival.

“The first day of October brings an unheralded and violent storm, which whips through Fairacre, blowing down trees and telephone poles — and, worst of all, damaging the roof of St. Patrick’s Church. The inhabitants of tiny Fairacre can’t imagine how they will be able to afford the repairs, until Mr. Willett suggests a fundraising festival. Preparations for a food sale, a concert, a school play, and a gigantic Christmas bazaar are soon made — but will they be enough? With her customary humor and grace, Miss Read recounts a story of catastrophe and courage.” 

This is the 6th book, and shortest so far, in her Fairacre series.  It didn’t take long to finish (the storm lasted longer than it did) but I really enjoyed it!  Her writing style is so beautiful and descriptive that it is easy to picture the little village of Fairacre.  I only discovered this series a couple of years ago and it didn’t take long for Miss Read to become my favorite author!

The Fairacre Festival by Miss Read
Published by Houghton Mifflin (2007), 103 pages

Miss Buncle’s Book

A lot of our New Year’s resolutions focus on money.  Saving money is probably the first one that comes to mind but what if your goal was to make more money?  How would you go about doing that?  When Barbara Buncle realized she needed to make some extra money a few ideas came to her mind… like keeping hens or taking in paying guests.  But these ideas didn’t really appeal to her and Dorcas, her maid, definitely did not approve of them.  Then Dorcas offers up her own suggestion… Miss Buncle should write a book.

Miss Buncle's Books

There’s just one problem with this idea though; Miss Buncle “can only write about what I know… At least I can only write about people that I know.  I can make them do things, of course.” (page 15)  So using her village of Silverstream and its residents as inspiration, Miss Buncle wrote her book under the pseudonym of John Smith.  The Disturber of the Peace was a huge success and it didn’t take too long for her neighbors to read it and realize that it sounded very familiar. Mrs. Walker was the first to read it: “As she put on a piece of coal, her mind, freed from the witchery of the printed page, swept back over what she had read.  It might be Silverstream, she thought. Copperfield – Silverstream – how queer!  And Major Waterfoot is exactly like Colonel Weatherhead, and Mrs. Mildmay might easily be Dorothea Bold -” (pages 43-44)

Needless to say, the book caused quite a stir in Silverstream and many were not pleased with the way they were portrayed.  Thoughts quickly turned to who the author really was. “Who on earth could have written this book? Somebody in Silverstream obviously; somebody who knew everybody in Silverstream…” (page 44)  Not everyone thought the book was a bad thing though, “‘He’s wakened them all up,’ Sally was saying, “wakened them all up and made them see themselves as others see them.'” (page 98)

While the residents of Silverstream try to figure out who John Smith really is, Miss Buncle is hard at work on the sequel, The Pen Is Mightier… which is bound to cause even more trouble.

Miss Buncle’s Book was my first introduction to D.E. Stevenson and I enjoyed every bit of it!  I’ve read several more of her books since and she has become one of my favorite authors.  I definitely plan on re-reading this book and the other books in the Miss Buncle series again soon!

Just One More Thing: What first drew me to this book was the cover (I know… I know, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover).  I love what Sourcebooks Landmark did with their reprints of D.E. Stevenson’s books.  They are beautiful!

From The Cover: Who Knew One Book Could Cause So Much Chaos? Barbara Buncle is in a bind.  Times are harsh, and Barbara’s bank account has seen better days. Maybe she could sell a novel … if she knew any stories. Stumped for ideas, Barbara draws inspiration from her fellow residents of Silverstream, the little English village she knows inside and out.

To her surprise, the novel is a smash. It’s a good thing she wrote under a pseudonym, because the folks of Silverstream are in an uproar. But what really turns Miss Bunde’s world around is this: what happens to the characters in her book starts happening to their real-life counterparts. Does life really imitate art?

A beloved author who has sold more than seven million books, D. E. Stevenson is at her best with Miss Buncle’s Book, crafting a highly original and charming tale about what happens when people see themselves through someone else’s eyes.

This Edition: Paperback published by Sourcebooks Landmark (2012)

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“Transfixed, they stared.  His inspection did not last longer than a few minutes but there was something chilling, something impersonal yet intent about it, that was frightening.” (page 31)

I really didn’t know much about Starlight before I started reading it.  I’d read Stella Gibbon’s Cold Comfort Farm and really liked it so I was looking forward to this one.


The story starts out with two sisters, Gladys and Annie Barnes, who are elderly and impoverished but quite content with their life in the cottage they share with other lodgers.  Their life takes an interesting turn though as their home is bought and the new landlord, Mr. Pearson, plans to move his wife into part of the cottage.  He hopes the new environment will help lift her spirits but the other tenants quickly start to wonder what other sort of spirits might be lurking about.

“They had all been getting on so nicely.  And now everything was upset.  I can’t never feel safe again, not after this, she thought.” (page 202)

There are a lot of quirky characters in this book but I think my favorite has to be Mr. Fisher – the old man who lives upstairs and goes by a different name each month.  There were a few slow parts for me but, overall, I ended up liking Starlight better than Cold Comfort Farm.  The ending really surprised me.  I’m not sure what I was expecting but that certainly wasn’t it!

I’m definitely going to have read some more of Stella Gibbon’s books!

From The Cover: Gladys and Annie Barnes are impoverished sisters who have seen better times.  They live in a modest cottage in the backstreets of Highgate with Mr. Fisher, a mild but eccentric old man living secretly in the attic above them.  Their quiet lives are thrown into confusion when a new landlord takes over; a dreaded and unscrupulous ‘rackman’.  He installs his wife in part of the cottage in the hope that there she will recover from an unspecified malady.  With a mounting sense of fear, Gladys and Annie become convinced she is possessed by an evil spirit…

Just One More Thing: “Gerald had listened with sensations that were quite unfamiliar to him.  It was the chill emanating from the shut door on the landing that reinforced each word of Gladys’s, loading them; colouring them ominously.  He could feel it on his face and hands now, and through the thick old clothes he had put on for the burning of the papers.  It was as if he were standing in a steady wind that was streaming off a glacier.” (page 308)

This Edition: Paperback published by Vintage (2011)

Other Books By Stella Gibbons: Cold Comfort Farm, Bassett, Enbury Heath, Miss Linsey and Pa, Nightingale Wood, My American, The Rich House, Ticky, The Bachelor, Westwood, The Matchmaker, Conference at Cold Comfort Farm, The Swiss Summer, Fort of the Bear, The Shadow of a Sorcerer, Here Be Dragons, White Sand and Grey Sand, A Pink Front Door, The Weather at Tregulla, The Wolves Were in the Sledge, The Charmers, The Snow Woman, The Woods In WinterShort StoriesRoaring Tower and Other Stories, Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm and Other Stories, Beside the Pearly Water

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